Tag Archives: Mongolia

The Camel Milk Story from the Gobi Desert Mongolia

The story is hereby released at the eve of the World Camel Day 2018.

The author was invited by the newly established Mongolian Camel Milk Company. The group owns their camels in the desert as their half families live there with the precious livestock in the amazing Gobi.

img_51551-e1529573776340.jpgI started traveling from Dubai airport (2 am, 20th April) and reached Ulaanbaatar on the 21st morning 7 am (Cengiz Khaan International Airport) via Moscow by Aeroflot. The 12 hours stay in Moscow Sheremetyevo airport was an excellent experience of life as I slept in a small cabin available on rent, the first time in my life.

A Bank advertisement with camel, the first thing I saw on arrival

Sanaa and Enkhie (the trip organizers) received me at the airport and took me to the hotel (Khuvsgul Lake). Today, the program was composed of some meetings in the UB city with camel scientists/researcher, businessmen and visiting Changiz Khan Museum.

Me with Enkhie in Chansiz Khan Museum

Travel to South Gobi Desert

Next day, we traveled for more than 10 hours by road and reached South Gobi region. We traveled another 1:30 hour to reach the nomad Ger (house). The nomad family warmly welcomed us and we stayed overnight there. I slept in the Ger first time.Nomad house decorated with many camel medals

Gobi is a vast land with rich floral biodiversityThis time period of the year, the nomads do not milk the camels but to let the calf take it and get stronger. The Bactrian camels have beautiful small teats with a strongly attached compact udder.Bactrian camel is very good riding animal

Seeing Camels and Interviewing the Herder

Next day, I woke up in the morning and went to the camels. They are still roaming near the Ger with their calves. The calves are tied. I observed the calves and the dams and found them very healthy and stronger.

Types of camel

There are 3 types of Bactrian camels in the region, i.e.

  1. Galba Gobiin Ulaan (Reddish colored camel)
  2. Khaniin Khestiin Khuren (Brown colored camel)
  3. Thukhum MTungologiin kKhos Zogdott Khuren (double line neck hair)

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Breeding Season

The breeding season starts in October and reached the peak in December and slowly decline and cease in April. Usually, one Bull is enough for up to 70 she-camels. The details of the production traits are given in the table below.

Table: The Production Traits of the Bactrian camel in the region

Months Conception Rate (%) Calving %age Avg. Milk (kg)
Jan 25 25 0.1
Feb 15 16 0.15
Mar 4 5 0.175
Apr 2 3 0.2
May 2 1 0.3
Jun 1 1 1.2
Jul 1 1 1.8
Aug 1 2 1.6
Sep 3 2 1.5
Oct 5 4 0.5
Nov 16 15 0.17
Dec 25 25 0.1

The table clearly indicates the breeding season, calving percentage, and the milk production. The Camel Milk is lower in quantity, producing from 1-3 liter/day but the milk is thick and full of energy to give special strength to the calf to survive in challenging environment. The average milk production based on my survey is 640 ml/day with lactation yield 233 kg. The lactation here calculated on the annual basis but in actual, the camel produces for up to 8 months.

Camel Milk Products

The nomads use camel milk as fresh directly. The surplus is converted into fermented product (Harmok). The Harmok is used very widely and some products are available in the market in Ulaanbaatar. For further details about Bactrian milk, you can go to the link Detailed Nutritional Composition of Bactrian Camel’s Milk

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Harmok

The surplus Harmok is converted into CM Vodka and the residues are used to make Curt. The curt and Vodka is offered to the guests as a unique product of the Gobi.

The Attachment of Nomads with camel

The nomads love their camel very much. They call it Temeh in the Mongolian language. They use camel for riding, racing, festivals, wool, and also for meat (in rare cases).

The future of Mongolian nomadic lifestyle under debate! Same situation of other nomadic societies in the world

The report is self explainatory. The situation of other Nomadic societis is almost the same.

Listen and download: Dr Caroline Upton talks on the issues facing Mongolian nomadic herdershttp://soundcloud.com/university-of-leicester/the-future-of-mongolian/s-aYEoy

 Geographers from the University of Leicester are involved in research on pastoralism, environment and livelihoods at a critical juncture in decision making over the future of Mongolia’s rural areas.Image

 The two year study, Community, Place and Pastoralism: Nature and Society in Post-Soviet Central Asia, funded by the Leverhulme Trust and involving work in both Mongolia and Kazakhstan, led to a meeting in Ulaanbaatar in September 2012, organised by the University of Leicester team and their Mongolian colleagues. At this meeting herders were able to discuss key land and livelihood issues directly with ministers, donors and government advisors.

 Dr Upton, the Principal Investigator for the project, said: “Mongolian herders are facing multiple pressures on their livelihoods, traditionally based on nomadic pastoralism, from climate change, mining, desertification and new policies on land. Through our project, national decision makers were brought together with affected parties and local stakeholders to debate some of the vital issues pertaining to nomadic culture, livelihoods and identity in modern Mongolia. They were also able to draw lessons from the Kazakh context, based on our project results.”

 Dr Moore, the project Research Associate, who spent 5 months conducting fieldwork in Mongolia, said: “The herders that I met were deeply aware of climatic and environmental change in their pastures that are affecting their lifestyle. They often have to move further and more often to find good grazing for their goats, sheep, horses and camels. Therefore many are concerned that any moves towards privatisation of pasture will reduce their ability to maintain their livelihoods and nomadic culture.”

 In recent years, Mongolian herders have been encouraged through government policy and donor interventions to form herder groups. These groups are designed to collaborate in pasture management, labour sharing and environmental conservation, as well as marketing of their livestock products, thus improving local livelihoods and resilience.

 A long-debated draft pastureland law, to be considered by the new Mongolian government in the next session of parliament, seeks to strengthen rights to key seasonal pastures for families and herders groups. Although this law focuses on possession rather than ownership rights, for some herders it has raised fears over the ultimate privatisation of pastureland and reduction in the ability to move, particularly in times of need.

 Government policy is also promoting intensification of livestock production. Thus, there are tensions between mobile and more sedentary livestock production in rural areas and questions are raised over the place of nomadic culture and identity in modern Mongolia.

 Dr Upton said: “This is a critical moment in decision making about the future of Mongolia’s rural areas. Enhanced rights of herders’ groups to key seasonal pastures have the potential to make positive contributions to local livelihoods and to conservation. Increases in mining activity also make the recognition of land rights especially important, so that herders’ voices may be heard in defending and seeking compensation for land loss and displacement.

 “However, centuries old traditions of mobility, flexibility and reciprocity should not be lost. As other pastoral cultures have found, ‘modernity’ does not necessarily equate with sedentarisation or privatisation. Nomadic heritages and practices retain great value”.

 The Leverhulme team are finalising detailed reports and articles to share with herders, international donors, and government policy makers, as part of their contribution to these vital, ongoing debates. Results of the work have also been presented at this years’ Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers) annual conference in Edinburgh.

 

Resilience of Native livestock to climate change in the context of Mongolia

A friend through DAD-Net email list commented on the pastoral livestock of Mongolia Image

in the context of climate change.

“Scientists of many countries agree that more than 60% of natural disasters occurred worldwide are associated with global climatic change. The air temperature around the surface of earth increased by 1.50C in the last 50 years but same time air temperature of Mongolia increased by 4.10C.  Therefore climate warming in Mongolia takes a place at faster rate by 3 times as compared to global warming. Climate change comes as an additional factor affecting a livestock sector that is already highly dynamic and facing many challenges.

What are adverse impacts of climatic changes and warming on animal husbandry in Mongolia?

Researchers consider that climate changes and global warming exert its effects on animal husbandry in Mongolia in the following ways:

1.      We are observing and herders are lamentably talking about that of more than 2800 plant species grown in approximately 113 million ha rangelands of our country, more than 600 species are seen to be important for animal nutrition, but species of plants edible by livestock in any provinces are decreasing in the last years, instead of them Artemisia spp and weed plants inedible by animals are prevailing, and values of pastures are declining.

2.      Number of rivers, streams, ponds and lakes, which were main sources of drinking water of rural people and animals, are drying off, ground water levels are lowering, and it exerts adverse impacts on water supply for both human populations and rangelands. For example, according to 2007 hydrological recording, 852 rivers, 2277 springs, 1181 lakes and ponds and more than mineral water sources were dried off.

3.      Extreme warming results in lowering ground water level. It has adverse impacts on water supply of both human and animals and its guarantee.  The lowering ground water level reveals the risk of drying off artisan wells and on the other hand construction of motorized wells will be more expensive.

4.      In association with warming, there has been a tendency of increasing evaporation rate of earth surface moisture and intensification of acidification. In other words, precipitation is not sufficient to compensate soil moisture loss. It exerts adverse effects on pasture production and carrying capacity.

5.      Sharp changes are occurring in annual precipitation characteristics and distributions. Although total amount of annual precipitations does not drop in most areas, scientists are proving and warning about changes of precipitation characters, distributions and effects on soil and plants. For example, during 1960-1980, drizzling rains lasted for days, rain water is absorbed deeply into soil and reached plant roots, and pasture vegetation was greater, while recent years, mostly heavy showers occur and cause flooding due to lack of absorbing rain water into soil. Precipitation becomes less in May or June, when pasture plants are intensively growing. As a consequence, real condition of revival of natural pastures with shorter period of summer and autumn seasons, and formation of sufficient reserves of pasture plants to be used for winter and spring seasons cannot be provided regularly. As well, it has been observed that more frequent snowfalls, periodical colds and snow and dust storms in winter and spring in the last years than previous years have a tendency to encompass broader areas and be common characters.

6.      In 2009 report of climatic change, there are facts about that Mongolian livestock body is becoming smaller and their productivity is reducing in the last years due to above mentioned real situations, which are adverse consequences of global climatic changes. According to survey of more than 40 meteorological stations located in various natural and climatic regions of our country, weight of native Mongolian cattle dropped by 14-19 kg, sheep and goats by 7-8 kg, and wool yield of sheep decreased by approximately 90 g, which should not be left without paying attentions. Recent years, favorable periods of summer and autumn are curtailed or last approximately 100-120 days, whereas severe winter and spring periods increased or last 220-240 days.

7.      Native Mongolian livestock populations, which are raised in pasture for all year round, are emaciated and exhausted due to the following 5 reasons:

  • a.       Pasture plant production reduces during winter and spring seasons
  • b.      Duration of grazing on the pasture decreases.
  • c.       Pasture plant nutritive values decrease.
  • d.      Pasture plant digestibility reduces.
  • e.       Feed consumption for pregnant and lactating animals increases.

Scientists demonstrated that pastoral livestock are able to eat only about 40-50% of their daily feed intake because production, digestibility and nutritive value of pasture plants, and grazing length decrease during winter and spring. On the other hand, nutritive demands (nutrients, minerals and biologically active matters) of pregnant and lactating animals increase sharply during winter and spring. Demands of nutrients, minerals and biologically active matters of pregnant and lactating animals are greater by 30-40% as compared to male animals, barren females and early pregnant animals.

8.      Extreme warming exerts adverse impacts on livestock comfortable pasture grazing. According to surveys and estimations of competent authorities and scientists it has a tendency of increasing drastically number of very hot days due to climatic changes. It means there are undesired impacts on animal welfare, body conditions and milk yields, young animal body growth and development, animal body resistance, and finally preparation of animals for wintering. Generally, summer warming above 200C has adverse effects on livestock grazing, resulting in gathering in groups, searching shadowy places, laying down and standing instead of active grazing, and therefore hindering pasture grazing of animals. Despite pasture grazing length in summer and autumn seasons is 13-14 hours; the most active grazing period is only 3-5 hours as reported by researchers. Hence it means this period will be shorter due to extreme warming in summer and autumn.

9.      In territories of any provinces and villages it is observed that lack of precipitations during summer and autumn results in drop of hay field and pasture plant productions and reduction of numbers of palatable plants with higher nutritive values and capable to be kept sufficiently in the pasture during winter and spring. In other words it means values of pasture are decreasing due to warming effects.

10.  Snowfalls during winter have been greater in the last decade and a common tendency that it will further increase, majority of annual precipitations occur in the form of snowfall during winter and spring seasons, while rain will be rare during  May and June, which are months of pasture plant active growth, is now being found.

  In conclution

 1.      Climate warming in Mongolia takes place at faster rate by 3 times as compared to global warming;

2.      Pastoral animal husbandry of Mongolia is under naturally risky situations for all year round.”

Jiige  (the nickname of Mongolian friend)

The Strong and Brave, Tolerate hottest days of the year (22 June), A world Camel Day

The Brela camel of Pat. The highly tolerant and adapted camels of Sibi plains (Pat) of Balochistan. Here the people say the heat waves come from the hell and mercury touches 52 Celsius in Summer. I took this picture on 22nd June and there were really heat waves of the hell but these camels were happily enjoying the sunshine in the Pat (barren land)

Camel, the tolerant, adaptable, docile and loving creature especially gifted by nature to the harsh and hostile ecosystems of the world.  The people living in such regions are really blessed and gifted with this unique creation. Unfortunately, in the fast world and fast life era, this unique gift was either ignored or undermined by different quarters especially the policymakers. The author, therefore, proposed a day (22nd June) to think and think about this precious animal and spread awareness to give proper place again. Thanks to all my friends and colleagues, including scientists, activists, and family members who supported this cause and now the people have realized the importance of this great friend of mine~ The dear Camel.

Brahvi breed.jpg

Another very special breed of the camel in the region is Brahvi camel. The breeders are in love with the black color and they select for such coat of camel.

A real camel day 22nd June in the Pat of Sibi. This day was a tribute to these very special and unique animal in the Pat of Sibi. We took milk from them and made Sourine (the fermented milk in Balochi culture). Hence a world camel day was celebrated on 22nd June. Though 21st June is the longest day in northern hemisphere 21st June is dedicated to World Music Day. This picture was shot in the hottest place of Pakistan (Sibi), in the hottest month (June). The camels are sitting naked to the sunshine, enjoying regurgitation.

Bactrian Camels in the South Gobi Province of the Mongolia

I shot this picture in the month of the May. Though the weather was not hot still the environment is not very friendly for the exotic livestock.